Executive Team and Staff
Elissa Faro, PhD
Senior Research and Knowledge Manager
Elissa is a Project Manager for the Working to Improve Sickle Cell Healthcare (WISCH) and ACTION SCD projects. Prior to working at NICHQ, Elissa taught at Brown University and Dartmouth College. She has extensive project management, research, and fieldwork experience from her work on projects in Armenia, Greece, Italy, Montserrat and Peru. She holds a PhD in Classical Archaeology with an MA in Anthropology from the University of Michigan.
Zhandra Ferreira-Cesar, MPH
Zhandra is a Project Manager on the Infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN) project. Prior to joining NICHQ, Zhandra was a Program Manager at the Boston University School of Public Health and Boston Medical Center’s Department of Pediatrics. She has experience in project management, research, and working with the community. Zhandra received her BA in Political Science from Boston University and her Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management at the Boston University School of Public Health.
Tricia Finnerty, MS
Associate Director and CYSHCN Operational Lead
Tricia is an Associate Director for the Working to Improve Sickle Cell Healthcare (WISCH) and Improving Hearing Screening and Intervention Systems (IHSIS) projects. She also serves as a Operational Lead for NICHQ's Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSCHN) focus area. Prior to joining NICHQ, Tricia served as a Senior Project Developer for a partnership between the Tourette Syndrome Association and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tricia received a BS in Biology from Boston College and a MS with a concentration in Maternal and Child Health from Harvard School of Public Health.
Elaine Fitzgerald, DrPH, MIA, CLC
Elaine is a Project Director who oversees NICHQ's perinatal work. She came to NICHQ with nearly fifteen years of experience in domestic and international healthcare working in operations, program design, grant management, and quality improvement. Elaine was awarded her Doctorate in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health.
Cindy Hutter, MBA
Senior Manager of Communications
Cindy leads NICHQ's project-specific communication strategies to enhance the organization's visibility and reputation. Prior to joining NICHQ, she served in roles including Communications Manager at Cambridge Associates, Employee Communication Editor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and as a reporter and editor on various publications in Boston, New York and Washington, DC. Cindy received her BA in Journalism and Communication from George Washington University and her MBA from Dowling College.
Kristen drives the dissemination of editorial, interactive, and multimedia content to build interest in NICHQ’s work and mission, generate customer engagement, and expand the organization’s brand and reputation. Prior to joining NICHQ, she worked for 12 years at Eduventures, Inc. in multiple roles including Analyst, Consulting Services; Director, Online Products; Director, Technology; and others. Previously, Kristen served in communications, marketing, and editorial roles at several for-profit and non-profit organizations in the Boston area. She has also worked as a Teaching Assistant for the Arlington (Mass.) Public Schools. Kristen received her BA in Religion from Wellesley College.
Meghan Johnson, SM
Senior Project Manager
Meghan is a Senior Project Manager for the Improving Care for Children with Autism and Best Fed Beginnings projects. Prior to joining NICHQ, she served as the Boston Program Director and then the National Program Director for the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in Boston. Meghan received her MSc in Maternal and Child Health from Harvard University School of Public Health and her BA in Human Development from Boston College Lynch School of Education.
David Jurkowitz, SM
David is an Accounting Specialist who is responsible for a wide range of NICHQ accounting and financial functions. Prior to joining NICHQ, he worked as the financial manager of the Arlington Enrichment Collaborative. He has also edited textbooks for Houghton Mifflin and taught in the Belmont Public Schools. David holds an economics degree from Oberlin College and a master’s degree in education from Wheelock College.
Tamar Kaim, MA
Director, Business Development
Tamar focuses on the implementation of NICHQ's development strategy and the management of all potential opportunities for new projects. She has a background in development, program development and clinical research in the United States and internationally, with a focus on healthcare and a variety of services for immigrant, refugee and minority populations. Tamar received her MA in Intercultural Conflict Management from Alice Solomon University (Berlin, Germany) and her BA in Psychology and French from Amherst College.
Sue assists the Development Department to implement the organization’s development strategy. She has a background in non-profit management, development and philanthropy. Before joining NICHQ, Susan has spent 12 years working in Hong Kong, including working at the charitable foundation of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and as the Executive Director of Hong Kong Juvenile Diabetes Association. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and a master’s degree in Human Services Management from the Heller School at Brandeis.
Project Manager and Grants Specialist
Elisa works primarily on the Working to Improve Sickle Cell Healthcare (WISCH) project’s reporting obligations and governance committees. Prior to joining NICHQ, she worked for SafeHouse Center, an organization assisting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She received her BA from Amherst College and is currently working toward her PhD in philosophy, with a focus on the ethics of reproductive choices.
Katrina McCarty, MPA
Grants and Contracts Manager
Katrina is the Grants and Contracts Manager at NICHQ. Before joining NICHQ, Katrina was the Director of Development and Finance for the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center, a nonprofit independent research organization focused on state budget and tax policy. She also previously worked for Jane Doe Inc, the Massachusetts Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and for a Massachusetts State Senator. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Drew University and her Master’s in Public Administration from Northeastern University.
Marianne McPherson, PhD, MS
Director of Applied Research and Evaluation
Marianne integrates quality improvement science and social science research methodologies—including program evaluation, health services research, and both qualitative and quantitative methods—to understand the implementation and effectiveness of NICHQ’s projects. She holds an MS in public health and a PhD in social policy with content expertise in child and adolescent health.
Shela Merchant, MA
Shela is a Project Manager working on the Autism Learning Collaborative and the Working to Improve Sickle Cell Healthcare (WISCH) projects. Prior to joining NICHQ, Shela worked at Tufts Medical Center as a Study Coordinator focused on developing a pediatric screening tool. She holds a BA in Psychology from Emory University and an MA in Child Development from Tufts University.
Operations Coordinator and Executive Assistant
Tracy is our Operations Coordinator and the Executive Assistant to our CEO, Dr. Charles Homer and to our COO, Rachel Steele. Tracy is also NICHQ's in-house graphic designer. Outside of NICHQ, Tracy manages her own graphic design company (Yellowspot Design) and also volunteers for a number of dog rescue shelters in the Boston area. She studied Business Management and Marketing at Bay State College.